Chip Shop Etiquette

Photo Credit: Simon Majumdar

I’m a lover of language, dialect and culture and how it differs as you not only drift across the country but simply go to the next town or village.  Growing up in South Wales the regional accents are incredible with the different valley’s and towns all being identifiable by the subtle variations which to many from outside the area would be indistinguishable.  Of course this is true right across the UK and none more so than where I currently live in West Yorkshire.  Note I’ve put the West in as for those from other parts of the country you wouldn’t want to be mistaking West Yorkshire with them folk down in South Yorkshire etc etc.  Of course one place where you can really see these differences are in fish and chip shops (chippy’s to you and me).

I know that I’ll never be a local here due to my inability to adapt to the chippy etiquette that operates in Leeds.  I was reminded of this the other night when I went to my local to get an order.  I’m lucky in that there are several good chippy’s close to where I live that all do a roaring trade and are proper Northern chippy’s in the very best sense of the word, however they have a very Leeds way of ordering.

As you enter the chippy you basically shout out once or twice (i.e. 1 fish and chips or two orders of fish and chips).  You don’t wait until you get to the till to order.  There is total logic in this as it means you get your fish cooked fresh and it will be ready by the time you have worked your way to the front of the queue.  You are not pushing in but when you’re not used to it it can feel like that.  Of course you never shout out thrice as that would make you sound like some Shakespearean dandy and would not go down well.  At the point at which you shout your order you also add in any particular variations you want so “twice, one lightly battered and one childrens” or “1 cod” (as the standard fish will be haddock so if you want something different then you need to bellow).  You need to remember of course whether you want scraps or not.  Scraps are the gorgeous pieces of batter that have not been stuck to the fish but they are all scooped up and you have them with your order if you want so you might shout out “twice with scraps”.  This does not necessarily translate around the country and I’d warn against walking into chip shops elsewhere and shouting out you want scraps or you may get more than you bargained for.  Even in Yorkshire scraps are not scraps everywhere, so in Sheffield they are bits and there is a chippy there simply called W’Bits (i.e. with bits).

Unfortunately I cannot bring myself to order in this way so I shuffle dutifully forward until I get to the till and then place my order at which point the whole chippy lets out a collective sigh of disgruntlement, I wait for my order and scurry out past someone walking in bellowing “twice, 1 cod, 1 lightly battered with scraps”.  I love it, it makes me laugh but I’m never going to do it.

So what’s the etiquette where you live and if it’s not chippy’s where you are what other variations of food ordering do you have ?